Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time accused of being a vehicle to project 'racist' leanings

The use of the terms 'native' and 'non-native' shows a desire to defend nationalism, an academic has claimed

An academic has embroiled Radio 4 in a very unusual race row after reportedly claiming that Gardeners’ Question Time is littered with racial undertones.

The show, which airs every Friday, is innocuously described by the BBC as: “a panel of horticultural experts answer[ing] gardening questions from a live audience.”

However, its unassuming exterior is concealing more sinister intentions, Dr Ben Pitcher says.

“Gardeners' Question Time is not the most controversial show on Radio 4, yet it is layered, saturated with racial meanings,” Dr Pitcher, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Westminster claimed.

According to the Daily Mail, he said people were vicariously living out their nationalist and fascist fantasies through horticultural chatter on plant species.

Speaking on Thinking Allowed, another Radio 4 programme, he said: “The context here is the rise of nationalism. The rise of racist and fascist parties across Europe.

“Nationalism is about shoring up a fantasy of national integrity. My question is: what feeds nationalism? What makes nationalism powerful?”

READ MORE: Emma Townshend: 'I grew my first lupins aged eight
Herbal highs: It's time to get potting dill and parsley
La Roux: Too old for Radio 1 listeners at 26?

He reportedly described gardening as a means through which white people can express their identity without appearing to be racist.

The use of botanic terms such as native and non-native, for example, panders to an innate desire to express nationalism, he says.

“Nationalism is historically about narratives of blood and soil,” he is quoted by the Telegraph as saying.

“The distinction that gets made between native species and non-native species and this kind of policing of what belongs and what does not belong I think is symptomatic of a kind of desire to defend the fantasy of the national space.”

A horticulturalist and long-time Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Stefan Buczacki called the claims “utterly absurd.”

“Gardeners understand the fluidity of species over space and time.

“They come and go, and adapt to different environments. That is what we mean by native and non-native species. It has nothing whatsoever to do with nationalism or racism,” he added.

A BBC spokesman said it was a passing comment that was part of a broader discussion about language and race, which “simply reflected the programme’s use of accepted gardening and horticultural terminology.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing